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The Early Modern World, 1500-1800: Reformations and Revolutions


There are no classes currently available for registration.


The personalities of this era are rightly famous: Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492, Henry VIII’s notorious marriage troubles, Elizabeth I’s reputation as the ‘Virgin Queen’, Oliver Cromwell’s leadership in the British Civil Wars, and Louis XIV’s magnificent court at Versailles.

To understand why these individuals and events mattered, the Early Modern World, 1500-1800: Reformations and Revolutions short course explores the dramatic changes that swept through Britain, continental Europe and the wider world over these crucial 250 years.

Many of the ‘case studies’ that we will examine will be drawn from British history, but they will be firmly set in their wider European and global context. By the end of this course, you will understand how this period laid the foundations for so many things usually labelled ‘modern’: ethnic and religious diversity, civil rights and parliamentary democracy, global trade and a consumer economy, and the ‘modern world’ itself.

We plan to cover the following content:

People and Beliefs

  • Introduction: mapping early modern history
  • People, land and cities: peasants and everyday life; nobilities; cities - the Rise of London
  • Reformations: reformation movements; reformation from above - Henry VIII and the English Reformation; counter reformation and global Catholicism
  • Women and men: gender and the family; witchcraft and magic; kingship and queenship - Elizabeth I, ‘The Virgin Queen’

Power and Knowledge

  • States and politics: states; princely courts; civil war and revolution - Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and the War of the Three Kingdoms
  • Beyond Europe: imperial expansion; trade and colonial societies - the Atlantic slave trade; world empires
  • Culture and knowledge: print and popular culture; Renaissance and Scientific Revolution; the public sphere and party politics - Whigs, Tories and the Glorious Revolution
  • Conclusion: Enlightenment and the crisis of the Old Order

Assessment is via a 500-word object or source analysis (20%), an 800-1000-word article summary (20%), a 1500-word essay (20%) and a three-hour examination (40%).

This can be taken as a standalone short course or as a part of:

30 credits at level 4

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    This short course has no prerequisites.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.